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Finance Minister questioned by National over 'mistakenly enacted' law

A terse exchange in Parliament over business support saw Finance Minister Grant Robertson questioned by National's Paul Goldsmith over a law that was accidentally passed last week. 

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The scheme gives businesses an interest free loan, but was passed by accident last week. Source: 1 NEWS

On Friday, Mr Robertson announced the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme, saying that it had "become clear that the support that is available to our small and medium businesses from banks is not meeting their needs nor our expectations as a Government". 

The loans are interest free if paid back within a year and will provide $10,000 to every firm, in addition to $1800 per equivalent full time employee. The passing of the law was the result of an administration error, Interest reported. 

Today, Mr Robertson said he rejected the premise of the question after he was asked by Mr Goldsmith, National's finance spokesperson, "what was the nature of Treasury's advice on the small-business cash-flow loan scheme mistakenly enacted last Thursday?"

"This is a scheme that has been worked on for some time, including advice from the Treasury about how to best assist small businesses, in addition to the wage subsidy scheme," Mr Robertson said.

"It's a scheme that's been widely welcomed by people in the small-business sector as one that will get money into their pockets and help with cash flow."

Mr Goldsmith asked, "how could he (Mr Robertson) possibly dispute the fact that the loan scheme was mistakenly enacted last Thursday?"

Mr Robertson went on to say the loan scheme was intended to be announced this week.

"The framework of it, the loan scheme itself, is something we're very proud of and it's something that New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses will benefit from significantly."

Earlier today, National are proposed a GST cash refund of up to $100,000 for businesses that lost over half of their revenue across two months due to the lockdown rules. 

"If the business paid more than $100,000 in GST over that period, then they would be able to claim up to an additional $250,000 as a repayable loan over five years," National leader Simon Bridges said. 

Interest would be charged at a 10-year Treasury bond rate, which Mr Bridges said was about 0.7 per cent.